New York move fulfilled dream

  • Article by: ROHAN PRESTON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 1, 2011 - 1:35 PM

For Daniel Curry, the road to Broadway's "Spider-Man" ran through the Twin Cities.

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Daniel Curry sings, dances and acts in “Spider-Man,” which stars Reeve Carney, left, and Jennifer Damiano.

It's not uncommon for the parents of athletes to relocate to support their kids' goals. Skiers move to Colorado to train. Tennis players go to Florida.

It's rarer in theater, but that is exactly what Daniel Curry's family did for him.

In 2004, after 14 years of living in the Twin Cities, Curry's mother acceded to his teenage desire to move to New York to attend the "Fame" high school and be in show business.

He got his wish, got into the school and now finds himself in the most expensive show in Broadway history: "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark."

A dancer, actor and singer, Curry, 24, is a swing in the ensemble of the much-talked-about show. He also is the understudy for nine male roles, including the title character.

Curry said he was first influenced by screen images of tap master Savion Glover.

"When I started dancing in Minnesota, it tasted so good," he said. "It gave me such an energy and a feeling of love, a speaking without words. I realized that this was the thing for me. Savion showed me that dance can tell a strong, vivid story."

'Big dreams'

Born in Duluth, Curry was raised near Minneapolis, taking classes at the Children's Theatre, where he was in the company of such shows as "Snapshot Silhouettes" and "The Monkey King." He attended Noble Elementary, Sandburg and the FAIR School. He spent ninth grade at Mainstreet School of Performing Arts in Hopkins before he just had to go to New York.

"I had these big dreams," he said. "I've always wanted to dance, to be on Broadway, and I'm just thankful for my mom for making that happen."

That would be Diana Curry, a physical therapist and wellness trainer who moved the family to the borough of Queens.

"His grandfather [William Curry] is a jazz musician, but the talent skipped my generation," she said, laughing. "I recognized that he has a gift and decided to do everything I could to nurture it."

The actor graduated in 2008 from LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts -- a merged entity that includes the school where "Fame," the 1980 film and subsequent TV show, was set. He applied to colleges and was accepted by two, but finances were tight, so he decided instead to plunge into work, getting an experiential education in show business.

"I would like to continue to grow and educate myself but I find myself learning so much more by getting dirty and playing in the mud, so to speak," he said. "Being in the field, with the practitioners, is an amazing education. I haven't stopped learning at all. I read, take classes and 'knowledge up' on things."

Before his current job, Curry's biggest break was being cast in the Michael Jackson tribute tour, "Man in the Mirror." He danced in the show for five months, traveling to Canada, England and Monaco after training and working on it in South Carolina.

'Shock and awe'

Last November he auditioned for "Spider-Man." When he was called back, with the news that he'd gotten a part, he barely knew how to respond.

"I was in shock and awe -- it was so sudden," he said. "I had to laugh at first because after the Michael Jackson tour, I'd said that when I get back to New York, I wanted to have some time at home. I went to the audition, and it just kept rolling."

The production has been in the news because of its record-busting $75 million budget, injuries to cast members and artistic disagreements.

"I have not been injured, knock wood," he said. "Safety is paramount for the show. There's an A plan, a B backup, all the way to H."

Director Julie Taymor was let go this spring and a new creative team was hired.

"The new script is stronger and clearer," Curry said. "It's concentrated and more focused and truer to the comic."

As far as the news or reviews, he is willfully ignorant.

"I actually don't like to read what's in the press because it can make things more challenging," he said. "Everyone has an opinion, and for me, it's enough to see how the audience reacts.

That focus, plus the variety of his roles for which he is the standby -- from supervillains to the title character -- keeps Curry on his dance toes.

"One minute you're playing a bully, the next you're doing black arts or using a puppet to illustrate Peter Parker in high school," he said. "There are so many different parts to play, you can never get bored."

As far as his mother is concerned, the sacrifices have been worth it.

"It's a crazy business he's in and you never know how it's going to turn out," she said. "I'm just happy at the moment."

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